This is my own family travel guide of two places I truly love : Goa and Delhi. I lived in India for three years and I still go there quite often with my daughter. Here are my best places!
GOA, Ashwem beach
Goa is very popular during winter : high season starts in September and ends in March.
The region, and especially the coastal part, is known as a very trendy place, just like Ibiza.. But do not think everything is like that in Goa : there are lots of quiet and rather wild places whre it could be very family friendly.
The interior of this former Portuguese trading post is rather wild and Old Goa is beautiful.
Goa is an unexpected India : we meet here foreigners settled for years in India, artists or craftsmen living from their craft,… In Goa, life is so rich and sweet!
WHERE TO STAY
In shacks course! What’s more exciting for kids than spending a few days in a pirate hut under coconut palms?
Along the beach, between sand and lush greenery, everyone can find his favourite “snack” : some are more wild, others are classier… But be careful : book your first nights before, above all during school holidays. Most are accessible by road.
The ones I show here are those in which I stayed alone with two children aged 7 and 3 years.
Babu huts & The Pagan caffe :
A quiet place where you can find small huts under beach coconut trees, with private shower (this is not always the case in the huts). The design is simple,with polished concrete floor, and as often in India, the beds are very big (180×200 cm). The dream! The place is clean and the staff very kind, especially towards children.
The beach access is through the restaurant (fully opened, and on the sand, but is a sort of airlock between the huts and sand). There are quite a few waves but a child can walk in the sea rather far away.
Sunbeds and parasols, evrything you need is at your disposal! Even fresh cocunuts, massages, jarongs, jewelry (many vendors on the beach)…
About 50 euros a night for the hut only and wifi.
* Babu huts & The Pagan caffe, Ashvem Beach, Near Ajoba Temple, Goa 403527, +91 78752 34887 / +91 97657 95668
For trendy parents, who like to socialize and relax. Many foreigners come here to spend holidays, often with family. People come here for a swim between noon and two, or to spend the afternoon. The food is delicious.
* Gopal Restaurant and Huts, Ashvem Beach, Mandrem Beach, Ashvem, Morjim, Goa 403527, +91 98221 47416
Palm Grove is another beautiful snack in a natural environment, 5 minutes walk from the beach Huts Babu.
* Palm Grove Beach Resort, Ashvem Beach, Goa 403527, +91 96570 63046
La Plage is an institution in Goa.The restaurant is well-known in Goa (and beyond borders) for its fine cuisine, ambiance and hospitality.
* The Beach, Ashvem Beach, Mandrem, Goa 403512, +91 98221 21712
WHAT TO EAT
Coconut and seafood! Babu Huts offers a correct international snacking menu : fish, shrimp, chicken, tandoori dishes, Chinese noodles, pizzas, salads.
You can eat raw vegetabls without worry. Breakfasts is great : muesli with fresh fruit, baked beans, parathas, and a very good espresso!
And everywhere in Goa, fresh juices, such as water lime, soda lime, lemon mint juice, coconut freshly open in front of you …
WHERE TO SHOP
I did’nt shop a lot in Goa, but you can find “Le Souk by Amarya” on Ashwem Beach, a nice little luxury bazaar created by two French guys, Alex and Matthieu. You can find both French and Indian brands.
Two popular markets are held weekly in Goa : Saturday Night Market in Arpora and Flea market at Ajuna on Wednesday (be aware thatthere’s a lot of traffic and it’s very crowdy: the best is to go early).
If you prefer not to leave the idyllic coast, street vendors offer sarongs, necklaces, and jewelry right on the beach.
* The Souk by Amariah, Ashwem Beach, +91 99100 01409
* Wednesday Flea Market, Monteiro Vaddo, Anjuna, Goa 403509
* Saturday Night Market, Arpora, +919922100009
WHAT TO DO
Rest under the coconut trees of course ! … But you can also opt for visiting the lagoon or going on a fishing boat to see the dolphins.
Yoga classes are held on the beach (ask at your hotel’s réception). You can also get a massage at Babu Huts or on your deckchair thanks to itinerant masseuses.
Advice to move easily in Goa
It is better to reach Goa from Delhi (flight 2:30), as it appears that the transfer from Bombay is fairly chaotic.
In Goa, you will see lots of bikes and some rental scooters everywhere. Taxis are available near the snacks or you can ask for one at the réception for about 1000 rupees, 15/20 euros Ashwem to the airport, 1h / 1h30).
WHERE TO STAY
In the guest houses! There are very nice hotels (The Oberoi, Taj), but guest houses are the best! I recommend an excellent one in central New Delhi: The Amarya Villa which gets lovely bedrooms and suites.
The Amarya Villa is managed by two French guys who’ve settled in India for many years, Alex and Mathieu : they will be able to help you to discover the city.
* Amary Villa, A2 / 20 Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi, Delhi 110029, +91 11 4103 6184
WHAT TO EAT
Eat fresh and local!
– The parathas are wafers “stuffed” with vegetables and / or meat. Not light light but sooo good!. My madeleine of Proust!
Children are generally fan of alu paratha (alu: potato).
– The dal is a preparation of lentils and tomatoes, with numerous spices, and very little or no chili. The dal is rather liquid : its consistency varies from soup to puree. This is the daily food of the Indians, very nutritious and balanced, ideal with rice or bread (roast naan or parathas famous!).
– The juice or juice shops wallah
Do not fear for your digestive system, you can drink as much fresh juice as you want, especially if you buy them from these small stalls.
Tips: ask for the juice “in a cup” which will prevent the water residue from rinsing glasses.
WHERE TO SHOP
Indeed, you can do shopping everywhere!
– Dilli Hat is a prime shopping space, with craftsmen stands. Occupants change every week, and all the expertises of India (almost) are represented : wood or stone carving, marble objects, illustration, painted boxes, jewelry, leather, cashmere stoles …
Part of the space is occupied by restaurants from all the regions of the country.
You have to pay for the entrance (Rs 20 for adults, 10 for children – 0.40 / 0.20 euros), which ensures less crowded … and clean toilets;)!
As often in Delhi, it is best to arrive at the opening, around 11, because the place is almost empty then.
You can negotiate, but by experience, the prices are right at Dilli Hat
* Dilli Hat, Sri Aurobindo Marg, Laxmi Bai Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110023
Underground station: INA station, and your auto-rickshaw, “Dilli Haat” enough!
– A local market that I love : Lajpat nagar
Lajpat is a typical Indian market where you can find everything you need : fabrics, dishes, clothes, toys, jewelry, henna, shoes …
– I love love the Collection Prakash. A real treasure !
* Lajpat Nagar Central Market, preferably auto-rickshaw
* The Collection Prakash, E 24, Central Market, Lajpat Nagar 2, Delhi – 110024, Kashmir Behind Paint And Hardware
WHAT TO DO
One day, one visit! Do not miss :
- the Red Fort,
the serenity of Lodi Garden,
deer in Hauz Khaz Deer Park
for the courageous families and looking for adventure, a walk in Old Delhi.
My advice: be indulgent with yourself. A visit or a market a day is more than enough. The world, the noise, the paths, the colors, all the senses are stimulated, and Delhi both gives and takes energy!!!
Advice to move easily in Delhi
Modern subway and the roar of the tuk-tuk!
Delhi Metro is very modern, very clean. There is a train “women only” if you feel safre…
I exclusively travelled by auto-rickshaw. Feel free to negotiate prices : there are few drivers who agree to put the counter ( “meter”), and who will ask you the right price. A journey will frequently cost three times its real cost. It is always difficult to negotiate without idea of distances and prices, but thanks to your smartphone, you can now download apps to learn about the real cost of a journey.
In general, wherever you are in India :
– Families are always welcome in restaurants.
– Poverty is sometimes violent , and you will have to talk about to your kids.
– Mosquitoes : Do not take in your bags lots of products of all kinds against the tropical mosquitoes. Most often, they are ineffective.
However, upon arrival, ask the front desk to show you a pharmacy, or a grocery store, in search of Odomos, a great preventive and curative product, which comes in cream or in spray. For babies, put some cream on your hands, and pass them on clothes, and on the sheets.
– To bring in suitcases: Odomos of course, but also the Boroline, a cream “that heals everything,” Medimix soap with 18 ayurvedic herbs…